misi ini mencetuskan bermacam spekulasi antaranya polemik Komunis China yang ingin menonjolkan kekuatan mereka disamping ekonomi & sains. Selepas kejayaan menganjurkan Sukan Olimpik misi ini melonjakkan lagi China. Ada juga yang menyangka ini untuk menutup krisis susu tercemar dengan melamine yang merosakkan imej Naga.
China astronauts set for spacewalk
The Shenzhou VII mission is China's most ambitious so far [AFP]
Astronauts on board China's Shenzhou VII spacecraft have successfully reached their final orbit and are preparing to perform the country's first ever spacewalk, expected to take place on Saturday, mission controllers say.
China's third manned space mission blasted off on Thursday evening on its most ambitious venture yet.
The launch, part of a programme that China's government hopes will see Chinese astronauts landing on the moon as early as 2020, was watched by millions live on national television.
As of early Friday Beijing time, mission controllers said the spacecraft was circling at an altitude of 343km above the Earth, orbiting every 90 minutes.
On board are three astronauts, a range of experiments, a specially-developed space menu and a new luxury for China's space programme – the country's first space toilet.
Astronauts on board the country's two previous manned missions – one of which lasted for almost a week – had to rely on wearing adult diapers.
Mission controllers are being aided by Russian experts [AFP]The focal point of the mission though is China's first spacewalk – a risky venture, but an important step for the planned next stages of the space programme: the construction of a space station.
The prime candidate for carrying out the walk – known formally as an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) – is Zhai Zhigang, a 42-year-old colonel in the Chinese air force.
Mission controllers say it will take upwards of 15 hours preparation before astronauts are given the go-ahead to open the airlock allowing Zhai to venture outside.
During the EVA only a few layers of multi-million dollar spacesuit will be protecting Zhai from the deadly vacuum of space as he travels at more than seven kilometres a second around the Earth.
"Spacewalking is very dangerous, even for experienced nations like Russia and the United States," Morris Jones, an Australia-based space analyst who has closely followed China's space programme, told Al Jazeera.
"They don't do it very often and when they do it they're always very careful when they leave the spacecraft," he said.
"China has never done one before and they've also never tested their spacesuit in outer space before so when they leave the spaceship, it's going to be a very dangerous task, but I do believe they will succeed in doing it safely."
Zhai Zhigang, centre, will undertake China's first spacewalk [Reuters]A team of Russian experts is at Chinese mission control to give assistance and advice on the spacewalk.
The three-day mission is being touted by China's government as another demonstration of the country's technological prowess.
Analysts say it is also hoping the launch will capitalise on the success and publicity garnered during Beijing's recent hosting of the Olympic games.
In a commentary praising the launch on Friday, the official ruling Communist party People's Daily newspaper said that with the latest space mission "the eyes of the world are once again on China".
"Manned space travel is a distilled demonstration of the world's current level of high-tech development, and it is an important indicator of a country's overall strength," it said.
China launched its first man into space in October 2003, making it only the third country - after the US and Russia - capable of independently launching humans into space.